Wendy seemed to be speaking to herself as she mumbled, “One of them talked to me so it means they do have a mind - which means they know we exist, even if they pretend we don’t.”
I grinned. “I was wondering whether they don’t want to acknowledge our existence because they think we are all females. What if a male tries to talk to them? Arthur, are you up to it?”
Campbell shrugged and as he rose from his chair, he jumped. We watched him through others who were on planet so we had a bourbon waiting for him when he returned. He raised his glass as if toasting us and took a long sip. “I guess they don’t talk to males either.”
Jade giggled, “Did you tell them you are a male or did you expect them to guess?” He was not at all amused, but he jumped back. We couldn’t help laughing as he tried to convince a Vuy-Lequie that he is a male. Arthur seemed to take it personally, as if their silence showed they did not believe he is a male. He was pretty red in the face by the time I jumped to stand by him.
“I am Samantha Teller and I am a female. If you do not wish to speak to Arthur Campbell, who really is a male, would you like to speak to me?” No response at all. Arthur lost the ruddy glow as he chuckled at my failure. There could be two reasons, that I could think of, for them not to want to speak to us. The second reasons is unlikely as I don’t think they know about their soul problem, which left me with… “I am female, but in our species it is the female who is the child host.”
The Vuy-Lequie wildly bobbed as it turned suddenly to stare at me, coming to a stop. “Kajy Lygejol. It is spoken truly?”
“It is true. Would you like to visit our home in space? I think I can take you if you agree.”
Even females were in the group which quickly surrounded us and he saw their reaction. Anxiously he asked, “Kajy Lygejol is the first invited?”
Luckily visitors get sheathed while still in their world, making it possible for Freddie to react instantly. It only took a few seconds for us to realise that Kajy Lygejol was suffering - almost as if she could not breathe…or like a toy with a battery running down. He showed how saddened he was at not being able to come with us so Freddie tried a suggestion by Diana. He sheathed him again but this time it was more like placing him in a tiny platform of his own. Freddie included half a metre of the dust under Kajy Lygejol and all the spores in the air within the same distance from him and this time he did not suffer. While we took our guest to Freddie (FTS), Freddie created a much larger platform with the local dust, spores and atmosphere and brought it to Freddie as a backup should Kajy Lygejol need it. The small platform was not a platform, it actually was a sheath, which means it takes whatever he needs for breathing from our air, but Freddie was worried that Kajy Lygejol must need something else that we don’t have - for instance, sunlight. Luckily we can mimic the rays artificially.
Kajy Lygejol spent the first hour in a state of euphoria. He was like a kid with a thousand questions and he wanted to see everything within his first visit. He had to enter the larger platform every half hour or so and after he emerged from it for the third time he calmed down a bit. I did not ask any of the questions burning within me, preferring to give him another hour of indulging himself. Then I asked whether he would indulge our curiosity and answer some of our questions.
“Why would none of you speak to us?”
“Our females and your people spoke of us, but you were the only one to care about what matters to us.”
Embarrassed, I tried to change the subject, “What do you think of Freddie? Our ecology is very different from yours, isn’t it?”
I haven’t worked out yet whether the bobbing becomes more pronounced when they are deep in thought or whether it is because they are embarrassed. He answered, “It feels very sterile to me. I cannot understand how you can live in it.”
“Sterile?” Jeepers! I mean, I doubt their whole planet has a tenth of the variety of lifeforms Freddie has - without counting the alien ecological niches. Then I realised, he meant the spores, not the lifeforms. I guess they must represent life to them. Both as food and as future forms of life. “Kajy Lygejol, it only seems sterile to you because our ecology is so alien to you.” I asked Diana and Claudia to explain to him about the three kingdoms of life we have (as I first learnt from the trilogy Of Man And Mantra by Piers Anthony).
I’ll take a tiny aside because I appreciate the irony and I think it is important. The Vuy-Lequie are, in appearance finer, more delicate and beautiful. They are taller than the females, very slender and only at their midsection are they wide and soft, which is designed by nature to make it safer for the embryos they host. Somehow it looks good on them. I was guilty of making the same mistake some males of my world make and considered them less intelligent and capable of original thought than their females. Unfortunately I was not the only one guilty of thinking it is so, almost all of our species felt this way, even our males - maybe our males feel this way because they classify ‘hosting’ of embryos with being female?
Kajy Lygejol bobbed thoughtfully, staring as we sipped cold drinks (we must have confused him since they are of different colours, pellucid, black, green, orange and blue). “The worlds of other species, they each belong to one or more of the three kingdoms? There is no fourth?”
Claudia nodded, pleased with the question. “Actually, there is, the Wirms and Sparklers and the creatures named Ambros and Pambros don’t belong to any other kingdom we recognise. We can’t be certain about all the other species.”
“If an accident rid your world of two of the three kingdoms, would the remaining kingdom not expand, diversify, so that all niches are covered? You do not think the fungoid kingdom of my planet has expanded so as to cover all the ecological niches, making it unbelievably richer than the same kingdom of your planet - perhaps even equivalent to all three?”
Claudia shook her head. “No, I don’t think one kingdom, however it expands to cover the niches can be as diverse as having three kingdoms. I’m probably biased and I’d like the Inguel to tell us what the truth is after they study your world.” Now Kajy Lygejol shows that Claudia is his favourite alien - he must have a very high respect for her ability to face what she may not like…
With Kajy Lygejol back home and Robbie still absent, we asked Maria to delay supper and sat talking. When we’d delivered Kajy Lygejol at the exact spot he wanted to be and we’d removed his sheath, Claudia asked and was given permission to feel him (through her sheath of course). She was more interested in her healer learning what it could about him. Since then she’s stayed absorbed in her internal conversation with her healer and we are all curious - even Campbell did not hide how he felt. When she called for the Muyzith, Inguel and Anadir to share from her and her healer, we were on fire with the need to share. All three species sent someone to visit and Claudia spoke aloud, but without sharing with any of us.
“His body does not feel real! It is as if it is made of energy…like ectoplasm.” Ectoplasm? That sure had us hooked and if we were not such polite creatures we would have been driving her nuts with our questions.
Lytiso, a Muyzith doctor/scientist, gave her equivalent of a frown. “Not ectoplasm. More like protoplasm - which makes just as little sense.” The living substance of a cell?
Insifa countered, “No, to me it is more like nucleoplasm (The protoplasm that constitutes the nucleus of a cell).” Even those of us who have studied a bit of science were at sea. What they were saying did not make sense. Insifa felt us. “I’m sorry, it must sound crazy but I don’t see what else it could be. It is as if someone has stripped the cells that normally make up a Lequie body and mashed up the inner substance like soft clay to form a living body again. The flesh is no longer made of separate cells and yet it is not one cell.” She was too excited to succeed at sounding as grumpy as she was trying to. “We’ll be studying them for the next thousand years and we’ll never understand! Don’t get me started on what should be cartilage, nerves, organs and so on! Nothing makes sense - it should not exist!”
By now our isi had joined us and we felt her dismay when the Inguel scientist, Ifola, added, “It pains me to make such a request, but could they be inveigled into allowing us to take samples?”
isi urgently asked, “What if the slightest cut could kill them?”
Claudia reassured us, “No, they do bear scars so they are not like balloons, they won’t ooze out of a tiny cut. However, the females might take exception to our wanting to cut a male.”
They all turned to me so I looked for a logical answer. “Can such a request wait until we have solved the riddle of their souls? Once they see we can help them recover from their mistake, I don’t think they’ll take exception to our curiosity. They also have many questions they want to ask us so they should understand both sides will have to be open to the other.” I grinned, as I added, “I wonder whether I’ll ever be comfortable eating mushrooms again!”
Robbie, Solomon and the Akiard Entity returned without good news. They tried everything they could think of, but they were present at the absolute fading away of two lives and no soul was found. The males used to have a soul so they have to still have one. We must find it.
We have been here for five months and during this time we have not seen one Lequie, male or female, travel more than sixty kilometres from their home. It is nearly a month since Kajy Lygejol was our guest in Freddie and most of the locals have paid a visit since then. They showed great interest in what they see and asked some interesting questions, but…not one of them has asked for or shown they wish to visit again. It is as if their curiosity has been satiated and their thoughts have moved on to other things. I find it impossible to imagine them not having another million questions and I know that the differences do not frighten them. I’m really itching to be invited to share the mind of a Lequie.
Imagine taking millions of tiny oranges, peeling and squashing them into one big orange. How is it that the big orange isn’t just orange juice? The question isn’t why could the males only host one child, the meaningful question has to be, how could they host even one - as a matter of fact, how could they even fertilise an egg? Fertilising and hosting both require some kind of interactivity between very different kinds of bodies. I am convinced our healers are wrong, they are not seeing the Vuy-Lequie as they truly are. I tossed that into the argument at the taverna, but it did not make any more sense than any other question or answer being bandied about as everyone tried to find a way to save so many souls from final death. We all feel that we can only succeed if we learn enough to understand what changes the Lequie females made to their males. To do that, we’ll have to learn how to enter their minds. I wonder whether Lelepco Elosuyk has a sense of adventure.
With so many Sparklers watching, it was not difficult to find her. She politely greeted me and waited, without my sensing any curiosity. This is starting to annoy me, no species learns to harness the powers of the mind without a strong interest in learning everything it can. If there is a planet with iridescent butterflies on the other side of the universe, I want to learn about it - how can the Lequie be different? Unfortunately I’ll have to be careful of what I say, unless we can reverse what they did and save the condemned souls it would only be cruel to let them learn how high the price for their romantic dreams really is. They may have found a way to accept the extinction of their species in a philosophical manner, but learning the price their males have to pay, that will destroy their souls.
“Lelepco Elosuyk, there is much about your people that does not make sense to us. I’m certain the same is true for your people and yet none of you are curious. Why is that?”
“I hope the answer does not cause you pain Samantha Teller, for empathy at this time is not a kindness to either of us. The youngest of us is more than half way through the time we have. When the last of us dies, so does our species and all our libraries within that instant lose meaning. Knowledge should not be gathered for the existing generation, it should contribute to the wisdom of future generations. When we first met, there was much excitement and curiosity, but as we came to see the vast wealth of knowledge you openly offer us without asking for anything in return, it made us aware how sterile life is when there are no children to benefit from our struggle to understand the universe.”
“The force or energy that is you, what happens to it once you die?”
“There is a dimension where nothing exists. Our spirit is released and goes there, where it is trapped and wanders for all eternity, reliving the memories of this life. Some say it does not survive to the end of time, that as with all energy, it fades until the last flicker of awareness is gone.”
“We call that place The Void. Lelepco Elosuyk, your knowledge of the void is wrong. The only way I can show you how wrong is by taking you there. You would have to allow me to enter your mind and trust me to carry you to the void where I’ll be your guide. I will tell you this, it is very important that you learn to understand the void, because that is where we can learn what is needed to save your species. Come with me and if you help us to help you, your species will exist for a very long time.”
“You teleported us to your shipworld?”
Her bobbing became slightly frenetic. “You will teleport me to the void? Will you give me one day to find and share the words to lessen the grief of those who care for me?”
“I’ll only take your mind, not your body. You will be returned, but I can understand you find it impossible to believe me, so…take your time, one day, two days, ten days, whatever you need. Lelepco Elosuyk, I do not like that you will suffer, thinking I will not return you, so I’ll ask you to consider the following: the only reason I could have for taking you to the void is for saving your people. If you can let go your fear of the unknown long enough to see it is as I say, then you’ll know that I also have no reason for lying.” I chuckled. “If you think I cannot return from the void, then why would I do this?”
“You are alien to me Samantha Teller, how can I count the reasons when I do not know how you think?”
“I guess it comes back to the only question that matters - will you trust me.”
“It does not matter, I have to try anything offered. The guilt is mine.”
“Guilt is a bad reason for agreeing, concentrate more on love for your people. Lelepco Elosuyk, I’ll meet you here tomorrow.”
Dommi helped me, but even with her help it took two days for Lelepco Elosuyk to become aware of us in her mind. What I’m talking about is not telepathy. If I try to communicate telepathically and the alien has any telepathic capabilities, I’ll either be heard as a ‘noise’ or as an unclear whisper, but over a few minutes to a few hours my message will be heard fairly clearly. For her to sense my presence within her mind is a totally different experience, far more complex, and we’ve had difficulty in getting Normals of our own species to sense us as the host first has to become aware of him/her/itself as a spiritual entity and see the workings of its mind, allowing it then to see us as an energy separate and not part of their mind. I think Dommi pulled a miracle by cutting down the time needed to two days. Lelepco Elosuyk went through the usual gamut of emotions, from terror at sensing something alien within her mind to ecstasy as she realised that for the first time ever she was experiencing another mind directly. We gave her the time she needed, but I took her within me while she was still in a state of euphoria - it meant she needed more time to panic and fight me and she was in the void by the time she started to react. She froze when she realised where she is.
For the first time, Lelepco Elosuyk was able to see and communicate with the Sparklers and she felt dizzy from excitement when she understood that the void is their home ground. A number of species visited, as souls, and once she accepted that I was telling the truth and that the souls of each species look slightly different, she pleaded to learn what she looks like to me. I was able to help her share what I was sensing directly from me and that, in turn, convinced her that she really does have a soul. It is an earth-shattering concept to learn and she needed help to recover, even after I returned her to her body. When we returned to our bodies we discovered she was surrounded by Lequie anxious to learn from her, so I promised to meet her the next day.
I was ecstatic. I had dared hope that once Lelepco Elosuyk visited the void and learnt about souls, she would be more open to us and do all she can to convince her people to let us save their species. Fate: There are times when no good things happen and nobody can think of answers and then there are times when ideas and events rush at us as if a white hole is spewing them in an explosion that dazes us. On this day, during the early part of evening, Tserika and Sheena were companions, their love expressed by sharing of memories and ideas. Tserika sensed Robbie and an idea was born out of her love for him. Sheena squealed, both shocked and ecstatic as she instantly saw how the idea Tserika was still puzzling over would transform the way we save lives by bringing back those who have died - also making it easier for us to identify the souls of the Whites when they die. She did not need to diligently wind through the logic of the idea to be convinced it would work, she just knew, instantly - as did we.
Tserika got her idea, so she says, from sharing my visit to the void with Lelepco Elosuyk. Tserika saw that when I carried her soul to the void, I automatically made way for her cord. She wondered whether the Vuy-Lequie have a cord attaching them to their body or could it be that their souls are part of their bodies, which would explain why the soul fades away with the body. She then visualised one of us, any soul, entering the mind of a Vuy-Lequie and reinvigorating him with our energy. The question was: would only the soul be strengthened or would the body draw from the given energy? The question/problem will not exist with the Whites, only their souls will be vitalised so that we can see them as we do any other soul.
Robbie called for Solomon and the Akiard Entity. He explained Tserika’s theory and we sensed all three of them relax. Robbie explained to us, “While we were in the future watching the Vuy-Lequie fade away, we saw ourselves appear within the same time frame, but this time Samantha was with us. We worried as to what reason could have caused them/us to risk a paradox or time loop, but we quickly departed so as to minimise the risk. Sam, the male you brought to Freddie, since he knows and trusts you, we’ll have to return to a time close to his fading so that you can share energy with him.”
Something did not feel right, despite reacting with joy to being asked to be a part of the first attempt. Robbie insisted he and I have a good meal before we leave our bodies. I was glad that Aganthi sat next to me, sharing while we ate. I sensed her withdraw from me and as soon as Robbie had his cigarette and coffee, she spoke her thoughts. “Samantha must not go to the future Kajy Lygejol without explaining to him at this time. Since he will know why she has come to him, he will not ignore you as he would otherwise. Roberto, once he is faded, he may not wish to interact with other beings and he may also prefer to fade away without being forced back to life. It happens to the very elderly and sick of our species.”
Kajy Lygejol listened as I explained. I had first asked him to keep all he learns from the rest of his people as we fear the knowledge of what is to happen to them within fifty years might cause them to lose hope and stop fighting to stay alive. As I talked, I continually empathised, imagining how frightened he must be, but I could not sense him. This must be what it is like for Normals.
The large, pale eyes of Kajy Lygejol remained fixed on me and I was surprised when I noticed that he is hardly bobbing at all. He did not cry out or show emotions that would attract the attention of others. I’m genuinely starting to like him and that means I’m also starting to fear, for I cannot face failing him.
“If our theory works and we are able to help you, will you be able to catch the attention of other males and convince them to allow us to help them also?”
He took a few steps, turned around so as to see everyone within sight and faced me. “At that time, if all is as you explained, I do not think I wish you to save me.”
Dommi, our ‘mother’, sent me her thoughts and I felt my cheeks redden. “Kajy Lygejol, my apologies, I did not explain correctly. We have no problem in saving and rejuvenating the females, only you males are our problem. We’ll even bring males and females from your past so that the population is large enough for your people to survive.”
“Then it is not good that you save the Vuy.”
“What if we can save you and change your body so that you are no longer a Vuy - just a normal male?”
“You can do that?”
“Yes and…damn it, Kajy Lygejol, to explain I would have to tell you something that is terrible and very painful.”
“Is there anything more terrible and painful than not being what I am meant to be - a host? Samantha Teller, I am made to look fragile, but I can bear all else.”
“The pain is not yours, it belongs to the females. I should first ask them, but if I do and then we cannot save you, their pain will be more than they can bear.”
He hesitated and I think he was examining me and wondering whether I was strong enough to bear his pain, for I actually sensed a sweetness as he softly told me, “Allow me to choose. Will taking me to Freddie ensure the females do not learn of what you have to tell me?”
A large platform with enough of his ecology for him to survive was created and he is now in Freddie. In their natural environment there is moisture but the clouds are not of moisture, only of spores and dust and it never rains. They do not have oceans, lakes or rivers and when tiny streams appear, they run dry within days. Although the natural habitats are so different, Kajy Lygejol is spending the night in the company of Lusalith. We had to introduce her as Lusalith Teller since she does not have a second name.
Lusalith sat with us and there was a bleakness to her as she listened to us explain to Kajy Lygejol all that their females have done to them. We thought he would also find it difficult to believe in souls and the void and yet he made no comment, accepting what he is told.
“Only the Vuy-Lequie will be lost?”
“Not just those of your time, all Vuy, from the first one. Kajy Lygejol, we speak of an existence that spans across all time, that is what is to be lost if we fail. We cannot accept the loss of even one soul. The worst crime any being can commit is the deliberate final death of a soul. Your females did not know and so we do not blame them, but we do know and we cannot allow even one final death without fighting to prevent it or else the guilt becomes ours.”
“No Vuy have died - that is why the way of our death is not known. If I welcome you, it is possible for you to enter my mind and show me the void?”
“I can’t sense your mind Kajy Lygejol, which makes it impossible for me to enter it.” I paused as my words left me hanging at the edge of an idea. “If you can feel emotions very strongly, one of us might succeed. I doubt you are able to hate that vividly but…can you submit to the emotions of hosting for a long enough period?”
We had all expected Dommi to be the one to make the breakthrough, but it was our Candy who had the brilliant insight that made it possible. She warned Kajy Lygejol and asked him to hold her. She then changed to a baby. Kajy Lygejol did not react and we explained that Candy was now an infant.
“Your infants are giants?!” Candy had to change, shrinking to the size of a newborn kitten before Kajy Lygejol eagerly took her in his arms. Candy must have looked weird to Kajy Lygejol, but somehow she did press (what we consider) the maternal instinct buttons she was hoping for and she was the first to succeed in entering the mind of a Vuy-Lequie. It hurt being in his mind. I am slowly coming to know the person and entering his mind to only discover there is no discernible soul, just the mind tick-a-tocking as it flashes with thoughts, it is hard for me not to show I’m grieving. This morning Dommi and Aganthi asked me not to enter the mind of Kajy Lygejol. Dommi told me I’m getting too involved and it makes me less effective and he deserves the best any of us can do to find his soul. I’ve had to sit with my loves and watch others struggle without me. It’s hard.
Our Robbie is growing wiser! I found out last night that he asked Dommi and Aganthi to stop me, it was not their idea. They agreed with him, so it doesn’t give me the right to get huffy with him, so I decided that I would try and do what I’m supposed to be best at. I’ve spent this day on my own, going back over all we’ve learnt about this species and Kajy Lygejol himself, in the hope that I’ll come up with a new angle. The only idea I came up with was to share from Sheena once more how she found the souls of Whites. Sometimes, learning something negative to the present problem helps cut out a few false leads. I’ve decided that part of the change the females created welded the soul to the body, now I need to work out what that means and how something that is impossible could be done by a people who do not even know that souls exist…in the way that would make it possible, if it is possible, which I don’t believe it is. Grr.
In the morning, Kajy Lygejol did not join those who are trying to make him aware of themselves within his mind; he came to me. “Is it not time to share that which I came here to learn?”
With respect for the courage he was showing, I nodded. “Robbie, could you leave your body here and return from the void as a soul?” Robbie returned as a beam of light that only gradually took on his form. Kajy Lygejol was fascinated and did not flinch when Robbie waved his arms through his body. Once Robbie returned to his body we settled into a long and detailed explanation of souls, the possibility of mother-souls, the void, Sparklers, Kaleidoscope Worlds. Wisely, we then gave him another two days. Although he said he understood, he found it difficult to accept the concept so his mind kept on finding new questions to prove it is not true. Only once it was obvious he had moved past that stage did we take it further. We told him the females have souls, but the Vuy-Lequie no longer have souls. We explained in detail the difficulties we’ve experienced and explained what our theories are, carefully stressing that they are only theories, that we do not know anything for certain. Lusalith spent that night with him and they talked for most of the night. Lusalith was emotional the next morning, emoting love for him as she told us that Kajy Lygejol had mostly empathetically worried about the females and how this information will damage them. He has decided that if we fail, we must never let them know.
Kajy Lygejol has a strange effect on us Terrans (I’m not certain about other female-male orientated species). I have to keep on reminding myself not to think or write of him as a she. We also tend to think of their females as being more like our males. Having to react to what is said or happens while re-wrapping our reactions to their actual sexual state can mix us up. We did not expect what happened, even though I like to think we might have if we had thought of the possibility. On this morning, watching Kajy Lygejol as he pleaded that we keep the secret so as to save the females, Deissia walked off on her own, but we sensed her and I chose to be the one to comfort her. I had not sensed how she felt about the males of our species because she mostly kept it hidden from herself, but confronted by a situation where females who feel like males condemn all the males who feel like females to final death, it shattered her. I aged myself so as to hold her as she wept - and she let me.
Once she stopped weeping I had my healer bring her splotchy face back to normal and told her, “How about we return to Kajy Lygejol so as to find a way to save all of them?”
We had to reward Kajy Lygejol for being so brave and selfless…for being all we dream of Cherinians being. If we do not succeed in preserving his soul, this will be the only opportunity for him to experience the void. Robbie became the void and took him to the void, shielded within a platform of void energies. From there Robbie jumped him to the Sparkler World.
We met them there. Kajy Lygejol has enough scientific knowledge to appreciate a trip in the Sparkler World. He was in a smallish platform that was placed within a large one and we grinned as hundreds of all species asked to come with. We travelled at speeds that were obviously close to the speed of light and Kajy Lygejol is not a narrow-minded individual. He accepted what he saw and tried to work out how it could be possible within the universe he knows. He chose to believe that the reality of the void is not within the universe - so we then debated his theory with him, explaining about ghost realities and about the infinite size of each mind. It did not frighten him as the theory has with other species, but he did feel disorientated for a while. To recover, he used the same trick us Terrans do; he buried all of it somewhere in his mind and blocked it off, assuring us he’ll take peeks at the information and mull over it for the rest of his life.
We had landed and were walking about on the surface of a Terra niche. I pointed at the Alps that decorated the horizon. “I asked for us to come here so that you can see mountains. From the mountains we shall travel to other parts of our planet for you to see features your world does not have. You will see rivers of water, snow and ice, ravines and volcanoes. What you will be shown is what most planets have and I do have a reason for showing them to you. Your planet is gentle, treating you kindly and your ecology is unique as far as we know. I think that no planet can have your one-kingdom kind of ecology if the planet is challenging like ours is.” I smiled. “This is just my crazy theory, no scientists have discussed it, so maybe you’ll find my ideas childishly naïve?”
He nodded as he bobbed. “Your argument is based on the theory that, the more challenges life is exposed to, the more inventive and adaptive it must be? That is a sad truth to be contemplated. Sad for us because it means we are not suited to survive in a universe that is far more harsh than we had imagined - and sad for you, for you were moulded by a harsher reality and adapting to it must have stolen much of the beauty we can still perceive.”
Cherine softly touched my arm. “Kajy Lygejol, does it not prove how important it is that your people survive, for only with you as our friends can we learn to see some of the beauty you speak of?” She looked up and grinned at me. “That is what you were about to say wasn’t it?” I chuckled in her mind.
I am pleased that my hunch has been proven true. When the Vuy-Lequie ignored us and did not show interest in what is something new to their world, we’d all argued that the change that altered their bodies must have also stolen much of their intelligence. With time I started to suspect I was wrong and Kajy Lygejol has proven I am right. He was as excited as a child by all he saw and we allowed ourselves to get carried away and we took him to alien niches, created by the Sparklers for other species. When he heard about our tellings and asked for one, we let the Sparklers know we will be giving a telling and asked them to create stages across the niches for all species who might wish to share with us.
Tina came up with an idea we liked - and it was a stroke of genius. She wanted us to project as Vuy-Lequie so that we can sit with Kajy Lygejol in a niche suitable for his species. It did mean the girls doing the telling would have to be shielded - their entire stage would have to be. However, this is where the ‘stroke of genius’ part comes in. Remember how our healers had problems with ‘learning’ about the Vuy-Lequie bodies? Remember also how ten people with a different taste in wine can drink from the same bottle while in the Sparkler World and each of them will have exactly the wine they prefer? Remember when some of us were hurt and the Sparklers called to us to ‘wish’ ourselves better? Tina told us to wish ourselves Vuy-Lequie bodies and…we had them. Now we could tell our healers to learn all about our body and we think they did.
Towards the end of the tellings, Robbie came up with his great idea. He asked Kajy Lygejol for permission, after explaining what he intends, and then used his energy-dye system (when as the void) and passed it through the body of Kajy Lygejol. Then we all tried to sense the energy of the soul that should be an indigo shade. When I say ‘we’, I do not only mean the family, all species who wanted to try were welcomed. We all reeled with shock when we worked out the truth.
Kajy Lygejol has a soul! That is not the big surprise, it is just the joyous confirmation we needed. What is shocking is what the females did with the soul. So as to strip the body of all impurities, as if they wanted their males to become angels, they used the soul as the binding agent that provides the body with the spirit of life. Unfortunately, as the body fades, it strips the spirit/soul of its energy and it fades at the same time, bringing about the final death before the soul can get to the void. It will take some experimentation but at least we do have a choice now. We will need a little time to debate the ethics so as to make it possible for us to take the necessary action - we are going to have to kill their present bodies, providing them with Lequie male bodies. We don’t have a choice, but it does go against all we believe in - against the instincts that now rule us. There will be many tears amongst us Cherinians for what we will be forced to do, but there also will be joy at having saved a few tens of thousands of souls from final death. They don’t balance each other out and I would not want to lose the tears, we must weep for what we do so that we remain on the path taking us to our Cherinian Dream.
The females were asked to meet us at their bowl, which we understood to be their meeting area. When we arrived, about two hours after their sun rose, they were puzzled when the Vuy-Lequie joined them. Robbie calmed them, reassuring them that the males already know some of what we want to tell them. He then explained that we know how they changed their males and even suggested we understand why they did it. He then told them about our first arrival at their planet, in their future, when all the females are gone and the males who are still alive are fading away, to the point where they stop existing.
Robbie took a deep breath and tackled the hard part. “All sapient life, whatever the species, has an energy body that survives the death of the physical body. We call this energy body the soul. The soul returns to live again and again, often as a member of the same species it was during its last life, but it can be reborn as any species within the same galaxy or even in a galaxy so distant that it cannot be seen. There are various beliefs about the soul, but those of the species with us in Freddie, believe that it is intended that each life, each reincarnation, is supposed to refine the soul so that it grows pure and worthy of becoming part of the mother soul at the end of time. It does not happen that smoothly, each life we live has its own temptations, each society we are part of drags us down or elevates us, according to the ethics of that society. The conditions can differ within the same species a number of times as other worlds have populations that are tens of millions times larger than yours.
When we first visited your planet, about fifty of your years in your future, we only found one sex - the Vuy-Lequie. All females were already dead. Your males had been left on their own and they wandered across the land barely aware of it, lost in their thoughts - which I now assume were mostly their memories of the days when you were a part of their lives. We learnt that you altered their bodies and I believe that giving them a lifespan longer than the life of their female was cruel of you. To live without loved ones, all alone, what purpose is there to that? However!” Robbie dramatically paused. “However, to use their souls so as to refine their bodies so that it does not survive their death - that is monstrous!”
At last! For the first time since we met them they overwhelmed us with their emoting. Before they could find voice to protest or cry out, Robbie raised his arms and called out, “Final death of even one soul is the worst crime any person or species can commit. Thanks to one male, thanks to the courage of Kajy Lygejol, that will not be a crime you can be accused of. He dared all we asked of him and we learnt how to disentangle his soul so that it does not fade away with the body.
Your species will not die, we would have brought back to life males and females from your past so as to help you grow alongside us for many millions of years, but we would have grieved for the souls lost - now none of us need grieve for they will be reborn with the original Lequie male body and when they die their souls will continue within the cycle of souls, as they were meant to.”
Having perfect recall is not enough - there could have been some Vuy-Lequie we missed seeing, so we jumped forward just short of the period we arrived (we stayed in hiding) and the Sparklers shared with us all the males they saw, even the ones almost completely faded. About seven hundred from our previous count are missing. We are returning back to the previous time.
“We’ve identified the males that will be dead within the next fifty years, so I suggest we revert them to being normal Lequie and not Vuy.” Robbie grimaced. “I still can’t believe how stupid the females were.”
All of us pulled back as Dommi flared. “Don’t you dare! After what you did to Cherine and I, how dare you say that!?”
“Me? What did I do?”
“When I first joined the two of you on Hydra Island, who was it spouting all that stuff about keeping romance alive by never seeing each other while on the toilet! Who was it that wanted to think of us as some kind of angelic beings who never use the toilet and made us self-conscious about the sharing of our bodies. You didn’t even want to think of us as being able to sweat! The Lequie females at least were honest. They wanted what you wanted, but they tried to achieve what they dreamt of…”
Robbie cut in, “That was honest of them? Are you saying they were right to do so and I was wrong?”
Dommi stopped herself from giving an instant answer. We felt the anger in her slightly subside. “No, that was the anger speaking. Roberto, you don’t know how you made us feel, how we felt for years - always having to make certain you never share with us while we’re on the toilet and having to be careful there is never the slightest smell of sweat on us so that you continue to think of us as the girls of your fantasies.”
Robbie was slightly stunned, not knowing how to respond. Cherine got the giggles. “Actually, Dommi, it’s just as well he was like that. Can you imagine what it would be like with over fifty of us girls sharing one bedroom, if he hadn’t?”
Dommi was still a bit angry so she only stared at Cherine - until Cassie wrinkled her nose and exclaimed, “Oh pooh! How horrible.” And Jade instantly added, “The Glorious House of Pooh!” We all got the giggles and Dommi stopped being angry. Just as well, she’d made her point and it was no longer needed. I guess we will be able to feel more empathy for the female Lequie now, at least Robbie will, he won’t dare not.
The females will continue to live normally until they are close to dying. We will then rejuvenate them and transfer them to the Sparkler World. As the males (of the seven hundred) begin to fade, we will also transfer them, where we will remove their soul from their body and provide them with a young male body…the one they would have been born with if the females had not altered them. The seven hundred males and all the females would have died over various years so we are fast-forwarding where we can, but still, it will take us a few years of our time before we get to the skip period, when we first were at those two times. After that, all the males will be taken to the Sparkler World, in one lot, and we’ll revert them to the bodies they should have had.
It has taken nearly four years of Freddie time. I did not write since nothing worth writing about happened. We now hold the total Lequie population in their niche and we already have the first embryos being hosted by very happy males. The females are still feeling too crushed for their family lives to be healthy, but with time they’ll become healthier. Now we have to return another couple of hundred years so as to choose those Lequie whose family lines died out, to add their genes back into the pool. We would like to see their population reach the half million mark before we leave. I did not have to ask for what I wanted, the rest of the Cherinians in Freddie felt the same way and Kajy Lygejol is the very first Lequie Cherinian. It should not take long for the rest of them to become Cherinians.
We returned to the Ribbon Planet and Ivgos visited six divides. As soon as we felt he was starting to feel overwhelmed, we returned to our Athens home. As I now do, I went to visit the Dalai Lama so as to bring him up to date and discuss my thoughts while Empathia appears at the chat shows instead of me. I reckon I’ve got the better end of the bargain as I always gain from talking to him.
We had departed in July (remember, Michael asked us to leave) and Robbie, considerate as ever, skipped August and we returned early September. We arrived in time for the Ipohin twenty fifth anniversary celebrations, on 15th September, PC61. Cherine turned moody, feeling melancholic because the anniversary served as a reaffirmation that Michael will never be a part of us. Both Michael and Ahní must have sensed her, for they both are spending as much time as they can with us.
I attended the official Ipohin reception as an eighteen year old so that I could dance and have a glass of wine without making anyone frown at me. When we appear as adults, Michael feels less obliged to concentrate on us, which is only fair to him since this is a big celebration for him, so I had more than one reason for coming as I did. A man, of about twenty six, asked me to dance with him. His mind was blocked but I sensed his friends and decided they had dared him to ask me for a dance and it amused me, so I agreed. When the dance ended he talked pleasantly for a minute or two and then asked me to meet him for coffee in Kefalari the next day. I turned him down and joining some of my loves, forgot all about him. Only a couple of minutes had passed when loud voices and the emoting of anger and pain made me look and I saw Michael hitting the young man I’d danced with. Robbie quickly reached out and grabbed my arm to stop me from approaching them. I looked at him for an explanation. He wryly twisted his lips, but then spoke directly into my mind. Sam, the young man did not bet he could get a dance from you. He had two bets, one is that he can charm you into having sex with him and the second, a much bigger bet, that he can convince you to be a child when you do.
For the first time, we organised the biggest and best party for Coral. Lua, her family and friends and Daniel from Meli’s world, and all friends (his entire tribe) were invited. It is amusing that she was born in Taiwan and yet mainland Chinese are proud of her as a Chinese. It is rare to hear them speak proudly of someone of mixed heritage; a quarter Chinese and half alien it seems they don’t mind.
On the evening of the first of October, the eve of her birthday, the party began very early, just as the sky turned red and the sun hid behind the horizon. We would end late, early the next morning, so that people from different time zones could choose when to come and leave. We held the party in Africa, at the same place Cherine celebrated her sixteenth birthday, but the cliffs were decorated by Normals - Terraforming Party Light Technicians, as they dub themselves. It impressed us (my family), we had not seen what they can do with the newest technology and lots of creative imagination.
Coral only looks about eight years old, but she was born October, PC 10 and it is now PC 61. For most Normals, even trying to imagine her as fifty one years old is almost impossible - adding to that the centuries of travel in Freddie makes it almost impossible for us to imagine her as being the age she is. I’m glad we chose to count our ages according to Terran years only, it helps keep me feeling like I am the same species as our Normals - though I wonder what we’ll do as the centuries go by locally.
Arthur Campbell capitulated and accepted the invite to the party twice. They communicated through his lawyers and agreed the one with us will stay away from the Campbellite group and the other will stay away from us and the Ivgos family. Knowing us and the impish sense of humour of some of us, I’d say we’re going to see some nifty evasive tactics being effected.
The party was not as much fun as it could have been because we had to invite (unofficially) some government leaders. Since Robbie first let the world know about us, a small number of leaders have become Cherinians after their term in office was over - many were able to change thanks to the trips they took with us in Freddie. Most did not and the earlier ones are, for the most part, dead by now. At least half of the leaders who used their contacts and favours to be invited to Coral’s party know they will not be linked by Cherinians, Ipohin or Campbellites and are desperate to find a way to alter their future - or lack of it. Normals say that because we don’t think of ourselves as mortals we can’t truly empathise with their fear of death. I’ve known the fear of dying and it does break my heart when I sense them. I wish there was some way to help those who want to become the kind of person who can be linked, even as Campbellites. There might be solutions, but then, isn’t it likely that all Normals, when they feel close to the end of their life, want to take part in the experiment so as to avoid dying? Knowing that the void exists does not change the fear. The person who dies and goes forward the next incarnation stops existing, and it matters more than having an immortal soul does to most people.